Meet Colin // Career Bio

Featured everywhere from NPR to Moth Radio Hour and Reader’s Digest, Colin Ryan is a nationally in-demand, award-winning comedic financial speaker, author, and educator with the background of a professional comedian and storyteller. To date Colin has spoken to over 500,000 students and adults across North America, and was named one of the top 10 financial presenters in the U.S. Colin is the author of “A Comedic Guide to Money,” a practical gateway guide to personal finance and our relationship to money.

Colin teaches people the money and career skills they’ll need to reach their dream. He uses humanizing honesty, powerful storytelling, hilarious pop culture touchstones, and a truly inspirational message to transform the dry subject of personal finance into an interactive conversation around one core idea: your ability to manage your money directly affects your ability to have the life you want.

Colin won The Moth’s storytelling GrandSlam and his story “Saved by the Belle” was featured on NPR, The Moth Radio Hour, and named one of the “Best Stories in America” by Reader’s Digest. He has collaborated with National Geographic Television, the Girl Scouts of America, United Way, numerous student leadership organizations, as well as banks, credit unions and colleges across the country. Colin is a Certified Financial Counselor, and his comedy charity series has raised over $150,000 for good causes.

Colin speaks to student and adult audiences nationwide, and provides financial literacy training for financial institutions, libraries, and schools, and for organization professional development.

Colin’s Story

What kind of story do you hope to tell with your life?

From a young age I wanted to travel, have adventures, and do creative and fulfilling work that was good for the world.

Great. So does everybody. But where are the jobs like that? I never thought I’d find a job like that, let alone invent it.

Growing up, success felt like an impossible destination. We didn’t have enough money, we stressed about how to get more of it, and yet strangely, we never discussed it. I was impacted by the cultural cone of silence around money. How could I master what I couldn’t even talk about?

I was a “starving” everything: office admin, technical writer, journalist, performer, and educator. I got very good at living on peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, on balancing second and third jobs, and on learning something from every person I met.

“I wanted to travel, have adventures, and do creative and fulfilling work…

But so does everybody else.”

At each unfulfilling “grown-up” job I had, I found a particular type of co-worker (starting with sorting mail at the Bank of Scotland) who I considered a “reverse-mentor.” This was always a wonderful, funny, good-hearted person who seemed to have given up on finding what they really wanted to do.

Without knowing it, they inspired me to develop a formula for searching for my dream job: building the courage and saving the money to leave every wrong job I took first. I did this over and over in my search for a meaningful career.

In 2009, I did the scariest thing I’d ever done: I tried stand-up comedy. And I was so good they even paid me.

I said, “I will make a career out of this.”

As it turned out, trying stand-up comedy changed my life. It gave me the motivation to learn everything I could about managing money, and it also helped me figure out how to share what I was learning with others in an engaging way.

Over the next few years I began teaching students about personal finance, and quickly realized this critically important subject was also boring, confusing, and depressing. When I incorporated my training as a professional storyteller and comedian, students would quickly open up and engage. And teachers would ask, “How did you do that?”

Part of it was being funny, but most of it was being honest and relatable. I am not a banker, an accountant, or the type of person who loves charts. I’m simply a person with a dream who developed the skills to build the life I wanted most. I am self-taught, and I am proof that success is not rocket science.

“I am proof that success is not rocket science.”

For most of us, something gets in the way. I can tell you that a barrier can become a bridge. Mastering the skills of success builds a bridge to the life you want most.

Ten years, nearly fifty states, and hundreds of thousands of audience-members later, I can tell you this: It’s not about the money. It’s about writing the definition of success that is most meaningful to you, and then using money as a mechanism to turn that vision into your life.

That’s why I’m a comedic financial speaker. I like making people laugh, but I love helping people overcome what’s getting in their way. Nowadays I help people master the skills of financial success and create unforgettable, engaging, and authentic messages to share with others.

What kind of story do you hope to tell with your life?

Let’s get started.


Click to see select media coverage from across Colin’s career.

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